Okay, let’s do it.
|Posted: 11 March 2018 at 12:49am | IP Logged | 1
Inspired by this thread—
—I’ve decided, on a complete whim, to watch THE SOPRANOS for the first time. I’d never seen it before. I remember all of the talk about the show, back when it was on. I didn’t have HBO until the show was nearly over, and really only knew of it from the references and parodies floating around popular culture. So, I’m coming in way late on this.
Of course, the show’s reputation is legendary. It’s widely regarded as one of (if not THE) greatest TV dramas of all time, and single-handedly kicked off the so-called “Golden Age” of television that we’re now living in. It broke rules, invented some of its own, and completely changed the game. It also kicked in the door and made room for other popular crime drama/antihero shows like my beloved BREAKING BAD.
But...I’d never seen it. Not for lack of interest, although Mafia films and TV are a bit outside of my usual wheelhouse. The opportunity just never presented itself. Well, today, I looked in the aforementioned thread, and the discussion of the show’s somewhat infamous non-ending made me want to finally give it a shot. So, I checked on my cable provider’s VoD list, and there it was. Free on Demand. The entire series. And in HD! I’m a bit surprised to learn that the show was originally presented in a 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio. I was worried that the HD remastering of the show also included revisionist picture cropping to match the look of modern shows. But, no, THE SOPRANOS was apparently ahead of its time in terms of its aspect ratio, too.
I know virtually nothing about the show, aside from the basic premise, some of the principal actors, and the non-ending. I look forward to hearing the thoughts and commentary of youse guys as this thread progresses. Mind you, I’m still working on rewatching STAR TREK- THE NEXT GENERATION, so I won’t be able to give THE SOPRANOS my full attention for a few more weeks, but I’ll sneak in episodes when I can. I was originally going to wait until I finished TNG, but I decided to just jump in, tonight.
That being said...
“THE SOPRANOS” (pilot).
I Get It. Immediately. I understand why the show caught on, back in the day. What I didn’t realize until now is just how funny it is. Like, really witty and clever. Clever character moments, clever juxtapositions for humorous effect, fast and subtle jokes which aren’t spelled out for the audience. The series’ premise has an inherent dark humor to it, naturally—a likable mobster with depression talks to a therapist about his family (and his Family)—but I didn’t realize just how funny it would be.
Lots of wonderful moments in this pilot, and it provides a great overview of the characters and general thrust of Tony Soprano’s daily life. The cards are also laid on the table rather quickly, in terms of Dr. Melfi clearly knowing who Tony is and what he does for a living, even though she doesn’t come right out and say it. I remember the dynamic between these two being much-discussed during the show’s heyday, and I can see why.
The late James Gandolfini is superb, as are the other principals. Gandolfini brings a disarming charm and likability to Tony Soprano. We immediately see that he’s a complex guy, with complex problems in all areas of his life. His family and his Family lives tend to stay comfortably separate, but still bleed together in certain instances. He’s a guy who longs for the Old Days, when there was a certain code of ethics among mobsters. Despite being a violent criminal and a serial cheater, there’s a strangely naive optimism and childlike vulnerability to him. I totally see why Gandolfini received so much praise, and why the character became an icon of modern popular culture, and I’m chomping at the bit to see more.
I’m impressed with how effortlessly the pilot sets up the characters, the tone of the show, and the world of Tony Soprano. It’s fast, smart, and, as noted, really funny.
And, man, this episode is a real slice of the 90s, isn’t it? CDs, laserdisc players, and “You’ve got mail!”.
Edited by Greg Kirkman on 11 March 2018 at 12:53am